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First Old Lyme CC title the start of a big month for Ken Sweitzer

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published September 03. 2013 4:00AM

When his challenger rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the first hole of Monday's Old Lyme Country Club men's championship, Ken Sweitzer knew he was in for a fight.

"That was a good start and I knew he was for real and ready," Sweitzer said of Russ Bingham. "It challenged me right away."

Not that Sweitzer needed to be introduced to Bingham, who has captured a club record eight men's titles.

Sweitzer matched Bingham's opening birdie and played consistent golf through the round, building a 2-up lead after nine holes and eventually posting a 5 and 4 victory. He won No. 12, No. 13 and No. 14 to close out the match.

It was a breakthrough day for Sweitzer, who had reached the Madison Country Club men's final four times without winning and finally won in his first year as a member at Old Lyme.

"This is big for me," Sweitzer said. "I'm very excited."

After living in Madison for 51 years, he moved with his family to Old Lyme about a year and a half ago. He's fallen in love with the area and thoroughly enjoyed what Old Lyme Country Club has to offer.

"It was a good move for us," Sweitzer said. "It was refreshing. Not a lot happens in Old Lyme, which is great. We're having a ball."

Sweitzer has a lot to celebrate these days.

He will be one of 21 people to be inducted into the inaugural Daniel Hand Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 13.

His athletic resume is quite impressive.

A 1978 graduate, he was a three-sport standout at Hand, playing football, basketball and baseball. He helped the football team go undefeated and win state championships during his junior and senior years.

After piling up the yards as an all-state running back, he went to UConn and took over at quarterback, playing four years. He also saw time as a wide receiver and punter.

"They wanted me to be quarterback," said Sweitzer, who served as a back-up quarterback in high school. "I had offers to go everywhere but I went to UConn because I wanted to stay close to home."

By the time he graduated, he had earned several All-Yankee Conference honors and was named Offensive Player of Year in 1981. He also was selected to the 100th anniversary team.

Growing up in Madison, golf was something that he played for fun. He's still having fun playing golf.

Short putts

Pete and Dick Stefanski ran away with the Elmridge Golf Course Member-Guest tournament. They combined for a 13-under 130.

It was quite a weekend for the two brothers.

Pete, who lives in Westerly, scored his fourth career hole-in-on on Saturday, Aug. 24, using a 23-degree hybrid to ace No. 8 on the white course.

Dick fired an impressive 67 in the second and final round of the stroke play event on Aug. 25.

In the net division, Rick Orlomoski and Larry Cappuccio combined to take first, shooting a 23-under 120.

George Banks recently won the Pequot Golf Club senior men's championship that took place over two weekends last month. Banks fired rounds of 83 and 85 for a total of 168, nipping runner-up Bill Johnson (82-87-169). Paul Smyth placed third at 175 (83-92).

In the net division, Ed Hayes finished first with a 128 (63-65) while George Taylor finished second at 133 (71-62) and George Potts was third at 134 (71-62).

In the junior club championship in August, Trevor Hutchinson, a senior at Grasso Tech this fall, placed first with a 78, beating Dave Eichelberg (81), Mitch Allen (83), Ryan Tobin (84) and Noah Blanchette (85).

• Elmridge is running a great special on Wednesday mornings before noon. Greens fees, a cart and $10 restaurant coupon (to be used the same day) costs just $45.

"Other than a couple of greens, the golf course is in the best shape that it has ever been," pro Tom Jones said.

Take a bow, Stan Husereau, Elmridge superintendent.

• Congratulations to Sam Ognisty for winning the Stonington Country Club junior championship on Aug. 24. Ognisty, a junior at Stonington, shot an 86. Jack Glenn, a freshman at Stonington, finished second with a 95 and Stonington freshman Jack Ognisty was third with a 96.

• Pretty soon Patty van der Velde will need to put an addition on her house for a room to keep her golf trophies. She recently won her fifth Stonington women's senior club championship in the last six years, beating Lorraine Tiberii, 5 and 4.

In the men's senior event, Jack Cannon was a first-time winner, defeating Jim Belli, 2 and 1. He was runner-up two other times.

Marianne Frechette defeated Kate Alves to win the River Ridge women's club championship last week. Muriel Angelo captured the first flight and Candace Porter placed second.

James Ballato of Pawcatuck finished third in the nine-hole division of the Jack Kelly Connecticut PGA Tournament of Champions on Sunday at Shennecossett Golf Course. He fired a 92, trailing winner Christopher Fosdick of Middlefield by six strokes.

Helene Nichols made yet another appearance in the Old Lyme women's club championship and came away with the title, knocking off Paula Bingham, 6 and 4, on Thursday.

• Lake of Isles in North Stonington will serve as host for the 2014 Connecticut Amateur Championship, which will run from June 16-20.

Upcoming events

• Teams from Elmridge and Winnapaug Golf Course in Westerly will compete in the annual Barney Holliday Memorial Cup on Sept. 29. Elmridge will host the competition that features 16-man teams.

• Black Hall Club is hosting the Connecticut Section PGA 51st Assistants Championship today. It is a 36-hole stroke play event. Local participants include Gabe Carr-Harris of Stonington, Rory Maxwell of Lake of Isles and Adam Rainaud of Black Hall.

• For the first time, Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug will host the Connecticut PGA Championship. The three day, 54-hole event runs Sept. 23-25.

• The Norwich-Shenny Challenge will take place at Norwich Golf Course on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Gavin Keefe covers local golf for The Day.

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